Tag Archives: completionist

Life never really finds a way in LEGO Jurassic World

It used to feel good to hit 100.0% completion in these sundry LEGO games. It was a victory well-earned, through being meticulous and dedicated and clever. You go back into levels you already played, now with a crew of varying abilities and skills, and you’d do things you were unable to prior, truly experiencing everything the level had to offer. Alas, the last few LEGO games I’ve played, specifically LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, have turned it into a real chore. I’m saddened to say that LEGO Jurassic World is also now a part of this troublesome family, and methinks this just may be the way all future LEGO games go, so allow me to predict now that I will greatly enjoy my first few hours with LEGO The Incredibles, but will be busted by the end of it. Sigh.

You may recall that I actually already played through LEGO Jurassic World some years back. Well, that was the Nintendo 3DS version, and I found it…underwhelming. A part of me hoped that its bigger console version would remedy some of the issues I had with it on handheld, and it does, but that still doesn’t mean it’s the best of the bunch and not without its own set of problems. Mel and I played it together, and that’s always fun, but the grind after completing all the levels to get every last red brick, gold brick, piece of amber, minikit, dinosaur, worker in peril, vehicle, character, and photograph is beginning to wear on my mind.

LEGO Jurassic World, despite its name, covers the first four films in the series, with each movie getting a handful of levels–roughly about 5 or 6–as well as its own minihub area to run around on and dig up collectibles. These levels are bigger and better than the 3DS version, but there’s still too many sections involving running non-stop toward the screen as a dinosaur chases from behind, and these sections are even more frustrating if you miss a collectible. Other than those, the big moments in each movie are tackled and play out, more or less, as one might expect. Traveller’s Tales still infects the narrative with its kooky humor–they love bananas and pigs–but a lot of the dialogue is taken from the movie and its quality is noticeably poor, to the point that I’d rather have this take go back to the silent pantomimed style of earlier LEGO games.

My biggest issue, early on, with LEGO Jurassic World revolved around its hub world maps and how the developers never tell you that you need to interact with a computer terminal to open up fast-traveling waypoints. For a while, I just couldn’t travel to a map area quickly, and my only solution was to load up a level and then save and exit from it, which meant sitting through several loading screens just to pop up on my island of choice. You could say I goofed a bit on that, but the blame could also go on the developers as I don’t recall other LEGO games requiring this. Also, there are multiple layers to each map that you constantly have to click through to exit back to the main game. Not really ideal, when all I wanted to do was drop on a pin on the nearest red brick.

Y’know, a lot of people like to muse about future or potential LEGO games–myself included–and I’m coming to realize that not everything can fit the mold. For instance, I’ve seen a lot of clamoring for things like LEGO Jaws and LEGO James Bond. The problem is that, often times, there’s just not enough excitement there to warrant games in these franchises. For instance, say there was a LEGO Jaws, you would get a handful of named and well-liked characters to play as, but then you’d have to spend all your time unlocking upwards of 50 no-namers like Ben Gardner or Harry Meadows, and their abilities, unlike superheroes, would be beyond bland, like interviewing witnesses or using fishing rods. That happened here in LEGO Jurassic World, wherein I mostly played as only the main characters from the films via the top two rows of the character select screen and touched nobody else except for Mr. DNA and a dinosaur when a puzzle required it…because nobody else seemed all that exciting to control, and there’s next to no experimenting.

If you are nostalgic for things adjacent to Jurassic Park, I wouldn’t recommend this. If anything, watch the films again. I have recently and can continue to put them high up on a pedestal, beacons of fun storytelling and lovable characters. Sure, you don’t get to bounce around as an ultra cute and tiny velociraptor, but that’s probably the only noteworthy difference between the films and the games. Heck, go back and play Jurassic Park on the SNES if you want something super engaging and full of tension though, in my heart of hearts, I know that those first-person sections do not hold up.

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What an idyllic English town full of murder and timed puzzles

blue-toad-murder-files-episode-1-final-thoughts

I downloaded Blue Toad Murder Files back in January 2013, which is fortuitously when I got my PlayStation 3 and began filling it up with PlayStation Plus downloads, as well as whatever freebies I found in the online store. Nearly four years later, I launched the game to discover it is technically only the first episode of an episodic murder mystery set in a quaint if quirky British countryside with puzzles blocking your progress to fingering the culprit. There are things to like, and things to not like. Allow me to dig deeper and put my thoughts into perfectly sectioned-off paragraphs.

First, the story. Because when it comes to a murder mystery, story is key. Don’t believe me? Check out some Midsomer Murders or whatever Professor Layton is up to these days. Episode one “Little Riddle’s Deadly Dilemma” begins with the narrator explaining how you, which is one of four possible detectives, ended up on vacation. Mother, the head of The Blue Toad Agency, sent you to Little Riddle, a village described to you as peaceful and comfortable, perfect for some rest and recuperation. Shortly after arriving, you head off to the town hall to meet the Mayor and introduce yourself. Unfortunately, halfway through the conversation, the Mayor is shot dead, leaving you with no time for R&R. Alas, with only one episode to go on, the story is fairly predictable and uninteresting, following a linear path to find out who did it with no shortcuts allowed even if you know who did it long before the time comes around for the big reveal. It ends on a cliffhanger, which is fine for an episodic thing, but I’m probably only playing this first one, and so everything feels unresolved and wasted.

Over the years, I’ve played a number of foreign murder mystery games heavy on obscure puzzles and strange accents. Want me to name a few? What, and not just default to the Professor Layton series? Okay, I’ll play. There’s the recent nightmare of myself going through Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments, the lackluster caper in The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief, the better-but-not-great Detective Grimoire, and while I can’t remember exactly if anyone bites the big one in those Puzzle Agent adventures we’ll count them here because they contain the necessary attributes: colorful, kooky, and full of conundrums. I’m sure I could come up with more, but that should satisfy y’all for now. Point is, this is surprisingly familiar stomping ground.

With that said, Blue Toad Murder Files is extremely straightforward, resulting in a yawn of an adventure. There’s one point where you can start interviewing the four suspects and can do them in any order, but the end result is the same, so the illusion of choice is just that. The flow of the game is this: meet a character, listen to some upbeat, alliteration-heavy dialogue, solve a timed puzzle, move on to the next person of interest. Our cheerful and inquisitive narrator steps into the mix three times during the first episode to see if you’ve been paying attention with a number of inane questions. No, really. They remind me of the ones from Scene It? Seinfeld, where you’d watch a three- to four-minute scene and then they’d ask you how many boxes of cereal are on Jerry’s back shelf. By the way, I got the very first one wrong here asking about the color of the train (hint: it’s green).

It is both commendable that all the voicework in Blue Toad Murder Files is done by one single person, specifically Tom Dussek–but it is also exhausting. Dussek’s range is…okay, but much like all the games from MouseCity (looking directly at you, Smells Like Art), every woman’s voice sounds terribly forced, and it just becomes more of a distraction than a novelty. I understand that, for a smaller game, a cast full of different voices would probably be a bit pricey and a major effort to undertake. In this instance, I’d have prefer some Simlish and subtitles. In my head, I can make anyone’s voice sound amazing.

The actual puzzles range from deciphering a doctor’s scribbly handwriting to doing some math in relation to currency exchange to listening for audio clues, such as an old woman describing her luggage or how somebody entered a building. None are terribly difficult, but all are timed, which just ups the ante for making silly mistakes and rushing your thinking. You are rated in gold, silver, or bronze medals after each puzzle, and to get gold you must answer within a certain amount of time. You can make a mistake and try again, but this will naturally affect what medal you get. I got mostly gold medals for episode one, but did flub a question or two, settling for bronzes. A small part of me thought about replaying the game, since the questions and answers don’t change, to run through it perfectly and get those “play it perfectly” Trophies, but I stomped that thought flat surprisingly quickly. Maybe I’m beginning to outgrow my completionist tendencies (editor’s note: unlikely).

Still, as a place, Little Riddle seems neat. Cozy and full of character (not to be confused with full of characters). From the camera zooming over it and bouncing to and fro, I get the sense it is a bit like wherever the place is that Wallace and Gromit live in Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures. I’m sure it has a name, but I can’t seem to recall it. Anyways, in that one, you moved from hotspot to hotspot, like Wallace’s home to the local market, waving and wondering at the range of charming people you’d pass by along the way. I do wish I could have taken a stroll through Blue Toad Murder Files‘s Little Riddle, to at least appreciate the green hills, blue skies, and thatched cottages as I moved from one murder suspect’s home to another. Shame, as I won’t be returning for a long while.